Shepherd Republic of Georgia is jailed for life for raping and killing US mother, her son and husband
The bodies of an California couple Lara and Ryan Smith and their son were found in Tbilisi last July
19-year-old shepherd Malkhaz Kobauri has been jailed for life after his conviction for fatally shooting Ryan, 43, and Caleb, 4, before he raped Lora, then forced her off a cliff to her death
Court threw out defendant’s insanity plea, and argument that he was a virgin incapable of rape based on DNA evidence – The teen had been watching porn before staging attack, prosecutors said
Smith family moved to Georgia 10 years ago to run Ryan’s successful carpet-weaving firm while Lara taught English
The Smith family were murdered on July 4, 2018 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Lora Smith, [left] was raped by 19-year-old shepherd Malkhaz Kobauri after he shot her husband Ryan and her son Caleb, 4, dead with a hunting rifle
On July 4, 2018, Malkhaz Kobauri first shot dead her 43-year-old Ryan Smith and his four year old son, Caleb. He then killed Lora Smith, 42, forcing her at gunpoint over a cliff near Tbilisi, in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.
Kobauri, 19, was sentenced to life in prison by a court in the city of Gori after a jury took four hours to pronounce him guilty.
Prosecutors claimed that his motive for murder was his desire to rape the woman.
The following day investigators recovered Ryan’s body, but Caleb was not found for three days.
The teenage shepherd, Malkhaz Kobauri, confessed to the killings and led police to Caleb’s body, police said.
A psychiatric examination repudiated claims bythe defense that Kobauri was not fit to stand trial by reason of diminished mental health capacity.
The 19-year-old was found guilty of raping Lara Smith despite defense claims that the defendant was incapable of having sex and was a virgin.
Prior to the incident, Malkhaz Kobauri had been visiting pornographic websites, which underlines his interest in this regard,’ said prosecutor David Kazarashvili at trial.
Tests found the shepherd’s DNA was in the body of the victim and on her underwear, said reports citing law enforcement.
The convicted man’s mother Mariam Martiashvili claimed her son was forced to confess. A court video shows her furious at the guilty verdict against her son.
As she was led out of the courtroom she screamed: ‘I don’t want to live anymore’.
During the trial Kobauri recanted an earlier confession and offered a new theory instead: ‘I didn’t kill. Two strangers did it.
‘They killed these people, and they told me not to tell anyone, otherwise my mother and my father would be killed.’
ReWoven, the company founded by Ryan Smith [photo], creates traditional, handcrafted Azerbaijani woven carpets
Prosecutor Zaza Datukishvili told journalists: ‘A brutal crime was committed – three people were killed, including a child.
‘The crime motive is unforgivable – it was committed for the rape of a woman.
‘The only adequate punishment in this case is unlimited imprisonment. In this case it is the only fair decision.’
‘The evidence did not leave room for doubt. The family members of the Smiths support the life sentence. It was a fair trial and a fair sentence.’
The Smiths were ‘well respected’ members of the local and expatriate community and had joint US and Georgian citizenship.
Ryan Smith, originally from San Diego, California, and Lora Smith had been living in Georgia’s eastern Marneuli city for more than ten years.
They ran a business called ReWoven founded by Ryan, which produces traditional Azerbaijani rugs. Each carpet costs more than $1,000, with a worldwide distributorship.
US Consul in Georgia Janet Reber said: ‘We were closely watching this case, we had communication with the victims’ family.
The company uses traditional methods of centuries past which have ‘all but vanished’.
According to its website, it hopes to maximize the benefits for ‘weavers and their community today’ and ensure the tradition continues.
Ryan left the US for Azerbaijan in 2002 because of his ‘passion for travel and a love for people of other cultures’.
While living in the capital of Baku he started working in the rug market and was inspired to start his own weaving business.
Ryan left Azerbaijan in December 2005 and came back to the US where he met and married his wife.